Date of Award

Spring 2023

Thesis Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Honors Bachelor of Arts


Theatre Arts


Dr. David Charles

Committee Member

Thomas Ouellette

Committee Member

Dr. Margaret McLaren


Theatre has the potential to champion important ideas and compel audiences to reject mistreatment or injustice. Unfortunately, the history of theatre illustrates an industry that has struggled to embody the values it espouses onstage in its offstage practices. While theatre brings together all types of artists from a diversity of backgrounds, it sometimes fails to guarantee those artists a healthy space to collaborate within. Specifically, I analyze the relationship between a director and their actors during the rehearsal process, and how the power disparity of that relationship has led to actors’ safety being disregarded, their boundaries being violated, and their willingness to be creative quashed. Because of directors’ status as an authority figure within a rehearsal space, I believe it is their responsibility to guarantee better practices that prioritize actors’ well-being.Through an analysis of Nel Noddings’ conception of care, I argue that directors must practice ethical caring with their actors by acting as facilitators, strengthening actor agency, and bringing the cast closer together. In order to accomplish these goals, I survey the principles and practices embedded in improvisational theatre, pulling on formative theorists like Viola Spolin, Augusto Boal, Keith Johnstone, and others. Through reflecting on my own use of these principles and practices, I found that they helped prioritize care in the rehearsal space and offer a healthier way for directors to work with actors; however, my application showed areas of concern that caring directors ought to be mindful of in their own use of these ideas. I hope that this survey of improvisational fundamentals encourages directors to look further for more care-based practices, making care the first focus of a rehearsal process at every level of theatre.

Rights Holder

Michael Colin McNamara